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Bolivia Travel Guide


Travel Guide to Bolivia with Local Expertise

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Bolivia at a glance

At the heart of the Andes, landlocked Bolivia remains a well-kept secret. Those who venture beyond the tourist trails of neighboring Argentina, Brazil, Chile and Peru will find a country offering a far more authentic experience. While upscale hotels and international-standard restaurants do exist, there are also plenty of rough-and-tumble journeys across empty landscapes and mountain passes as well as nights in simple hotels with llama-wool blankets. The infrastructure needs improving, but the country’s charm lies in its vast contrasts between the indigenous and European cultures, the jungle and high-altitude mountains, and activities from adrenaline sports to exploring ancient monuments.

Bucket List - What not to miss!

  • Strike a pose at the seemingly endless Uyuni Salt Flats
  • Enjoy La Paz’s chaos, the city that touches the sky
  • Discover Aymará traditions at Lake Titicaca
  • Explore Santa Cruz’s mix of modern and colonial history
  • Sucre’s colonial beauty & Potosi’s silver mines
Bolivia Weather Infogram
Bolivia Travel Guides

Bolivia Highlight Travel Guides

Bolivia’s scenery and landscapes are as stunning as they are varied. Flamingos stand tall in natural red and green lakes surrounded by volcanoes and unusual rock formations cover the Altiplano. In La Paz indigenous women wear traditional bowler hats and brightly-colored skirts while selling anything you could imagine, including some things that are beyond your wildest thoughts. The majority of Bolivia is made up of tropical lowlands which stretches all the way to Brazil. The roads in Bolivia twist and turn from the highest snowy peaks of the Andes to the steaming jungles below. In the north of Bolivia, Lake Titicaca is full of indigenous traditions, history, and culture. Potosí puts on one of the best displays of colonial architecture and is home to a silver mine, while on the edge of the white salt plains of Uyuni is an eerily beautiful train graveyard. Thousands upon thousands of birds, insects, and plants flourish in the Amboró National Park which covers the following three ecosystems: the Amazon basin, the Andean foothills, and the Chaco plain. Whichever Bolivian town or highlight is on your itinerary, be prepared for an authentic, invigorating and unique Bolivia travel experience.

HIGHLIGHT TRAVEL GUIDES TO BOLIVIA

IMPORTANT INFO WHEN VISITING BOLIVIA

USEFUL TRAVELER INFORMATION

This is the section with a basic road map to help you in planning your trip to Bolivia, hopefully to give an idea of a general time to travel, what areas may be of interest, visas and other great information worth considering when preparing for your journey to the region.

PASSPORT & VISA

All travelers need a valid passport for at least 90 days after your departure from Bolivia. However, we strongly recommend traveling with at least 6 months validity on your passport at all times. If you are a U.S. citizen we recommend visiting VisaHQ who can help you with a range of expedited passport services, including new passport applications, passport renewals, and any required visas. Australian, British, Canadian and most EU nationals visiting Bolivia for tourism will be granted an initial 30-day stay visa-free. US Citizens are required to obtain a tourist visa (USD $160) in advance, or one can be obtained upon arrival, however, we always recommend that travelers apply for the travel visa in advance from their nearest embassy. US citizens can extend their visa up to a maximum of 90 days per year.

FAMILY TRAVEL

Don’t be deterred from traveling to Bolivia with your kids. Choose your Bolivia travel packages, itinerary and activities wisely and you’ll be sure to have a unique family adventure. We recommend visiting the jungle and pampas with its warm climate, low altitude, and scores of wildlife relaxing on the riverbanks. You should make sure you leave enough time for your kids to acclimatize to the high altitudes, try to break up journeys with new stops and choose destinations based on the season. Your little ones will find the vast, bustling cities and colorful markets fascinating and the wildlife is the nearest they’ll get to being in a wild zoo after all who doesn’t love petting a llama. We recommend private transportation with children; most of the buses do not have a toilet, and they do not stop if you need it. If you’re not taking a flight always carry snacks and hot/cold beverages for your children, there are limited to no restaurants along many of the main cross-country routes.

CULTURE & LANGUAGE

Bolivia has one of the highest numbers of official languages in the world, with 39 languages being lawfully recognized as official. Spanish is the native language but some of the other official languages include Aymara and Quechua. Aymara is spoken by about 4.8 million people in Bolivia with 2.8 million residing in the Andes. Quechua is the most widely spoken native language in South America, with about 10 million speakers across the continent. It is rare to find the locals in Bolivia speaking English, if no Spanish is known there’s a higher bar for navigating the country on your own due to the language barrier. The indigenous population, first concern themselves learning Spanish as their 2nd language, as Quechua or Aymara is their primary native tongue. Therefore, when they move to the “city life”” it’s more of a necessity to learn Spanish. English is of little or no use in the city to many, unless they are university students or business professionals.

FOOD SCENE & DINING

While not famous for its culinary flair with many of its dishes focused around carb-heavy potatoes and rice, Bolivia has a few mouthwatering local delicacies that are worth sampling for yourself. From llama tenderloin to quinoa-based beer there’s plenty of weird and wonderful food and drinks to enjoy. The daily bread varies from the Frisbee-like mama qonqachi cheese bread of Cochabamba and the sourdough-like marraqueta hard roll eaten at breakfast in La Paz to Santa Cruz’s mouth-watering cunapes (cheese bread balls). There are also plenty of options for vegetarians in Bolivia including one of our favorites, sonso, a yucca-and-cheese pancake from Santa Cruz. You should also take time to explore the delicious tropical flavors of fruit juices like maracuya (passion fruit) and cherimoya (custard apple). If you are traveling to Sucre in Bolivia you won’t be able to resist the yungas coffee and chuquisaceña (Sucre) chocolate for dessert.

THINKING SAFETY

One of the most frequently asked questions we receive from prospective travelers is: “is it safe to travel to Bolivia now?” Although Bolivia is one of South America’s least-developed countries, it has relatively low crime statistics. Most travelers visiting the main tourist highlights and destinations in Bolivia will enjoy a safe and trouble-free stay. Although you will need to be particularly careful in Santa Cruz de la Sierra which is one of Bolivia’s most dangerous cities. If you take care of your basic safety and security you should face no issues while walking through the streets in the majority of Bolivia’s major cities. If you are in a busy area such as a shopping mall, market, or crowded street we recommend using a money belt or satchel around under your clothing.

VACCINATIONS & HEALTH

Travelers do not need Yellow Fever inoculations are not required for many regions/countries in South America, but may be required if you travel from one endemic country to another. Bolivia does not have Yellow Fever, so you can travel (for example) from Bolivia to Argentina or vice versa without the certificate/vaccination. A Yellow Fever vaccination certificate is required for travelers 1 year of age and older coming from any country with risk of Yellow Fever transmission (Read more on Yellow Fever here). The vaccination requirement is imposed by Bolivia for protection against Yellow Fever. For example, if you travel to Bolivia you are not required to have a vaccination, however if traveling to Ecuador and then on to Bolivia it IS required, and if you don’t have a certificate of inoculation, you may not be allowed to enter the country. Visit your doctor or travel clinic for advice and make sure to schedule vaccinations 4-6 weeks before your departure date, as some require time to become effective. Please review the US Center for Disease Control & Prevention Recommendations before traveling.

MONEY & CURRENCY

Bolivia’s official currency is the Boliviano. The exchange rate as in 2018 is approximately ~ BOB 6.80 to USD $1.00 (for up to date exchange rates go to XE Currency Converter). US Dollars are generally accepted in Bolivia’s main cities and within large department stores. You will, however, need the local currency while visiting smaller towns and more remote regions of Bolivia. When exchanging money, we recommend asking for a mix of smaller coins and larger bills as you may have trouble paying with a large bill in small stores and village businesses. Before you travel advise your bank that you’ll be in Bolivia so that the fraud department doesn’t freeze your card. Exchange money at a bank or exchange office but be careful not to exchange large amounts in view of a large group of locals. As one of the poorest countries in South America, if you flash your cash on the street you’ll make yourself a target for pickpockets.

GETTING AROUND

Bolivia’s infrastructure is poor but the adventure of traveling through its stunning landscapes is also one of the most enjoyable aspects of a visiting Bolivia. Although most Bolivians can’t afford to fly, it is a great way of saving a day or two of arduous cross-country travel, with most of the major cities served by regular internal flights. The idea of a fixed timetable would strike most Bolivians as rather ridiculous. Buying or hiring a car is a possibility, but given the state of the roads in many areas and the long distances between towns, it’s an adventurous way to travel and doesn’t guarantee you’ll reach your destination any faster. We always recommend traveling to Bolivia with a travel company, as well as not rushing your journey through the country, local situations can cause trips to have delays so when planning make sure you do so with some additional buffer time in each area to ensure things stay on track. 

ELECTRICITY

Bolivia is a dual-voltage country with two electrical systems. You will more than likely have to pack with you a set of plug adapters and/or voltage converters for your electronic appliances and devices. Almost all of Bolivia uses 220V, however, in La Paz the voltage is 110V. Before using a plug adapter double-check the voltage information on your appliance to make sure the voltage is compatible with the outlet

RELATED BLOG ARTICLES

To find out more about the culture, lifestyle, and places to travel in Bolivia. We’ll be looking at a range of destinations, traditions and travel tips for this incredible country in our Travel Blog. Find out about our favorite restaurants in La Paz and elsewhere, research different experiences to explore, or stay informed about upcoming festivals taking place across the country. Visit our Travel Blog for travel tips, inspiration and all the latest! Here are some of our favorite articles on Bolivia: 

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